I was doing a crossword from the NY Times (from Mon, Feb 11, 2019 by Portia Lundie / Will Shortz) and I got the following clue.

51 ACROSS - Times before eves, in ads

The answer is "AFTS". However, I do not understand why and how "AFTS" fits the clue.

Why is the answer "AFTS" and how does the clue fit?

  • $\begingroup$ Your question stumped me at first, and then I realized that I had solved it fairly quickly when I did that crossword on Monday. I guess I was thinking more creatively that day. $\endgroup$ – FlanMan Feb 12 at 13:45

The phrase "in ads" likely means "in advertisements", where you are paying for character space. This suggests "eves" is an abbreviation, and that the answer will also be an abbreviation. EVE is an abbreviation for evening, and AFT is an abbreviation for afternoon, which comes before evening. Hence "AFTS" should be times before "EVES", in ads.

(h/t to hexomino for suggesting the additional explanation)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What does the "in ads" refer to? $\endgroup$ – hexomino Feb 11 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, my guess was way off. i thought it was related to the time of Adam and Eves, and AFTS is used similarly to BC/AD. $\endgroup$ – Richard Li Feb 11 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ @hexomino I believe ads is "advertisements", where you pay on a per character basis, being suggestive that these are abbreviations. Do you think I should add that to the answer? $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Feb 11 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ @JeremyDover That makes a lot of sense, thank you. Maybe worth adding it (it wasn't obvious to me, at least). $\endgroup$ – hexomino Feb 11 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Ad-speak has produced lots of good crossword fill like LITE, NITE, THRU, and EZ. $\endgroup$ – hobbs Feb 12 at 3:56

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